I blame it all on Jennifer Doyle, who has a great blog, From a Left Wing: Soccer & Sports Polemics. She has written a lot lately about Hope Solo’s appearances on Dancing with the Stars. I don’t watch the show (not a value judgment … I can’t say if it’s good or bad since I’ve never seen it), and don’t really understand the rules. But this season, when Hope Solo became a celebrity contestant and Doyle started writing about it, I found myself checking each week to see if Solo and her partner are still in the contest. I still don’t watch the show. That’s not what has my attention. It’s the way Doyle has me thinking about Solo that matters:
An athlete like Solo will have such a different relation to her body than most of the women who appear on the program. Her movement is rooted in years of practice - it has a physical economy. How she knows where her center of gravity is, how she turns a foot, or claims the space around her - this is all developed through a body keyed to a purpose - that purpose being the opposite of feminine comportment. She is agile - a goalkeeper is usually the most athletic, most agile player on a team. But she is solid: she is not a bowl of cream, a cloud, a feather - to cite the language used by the judges to describe those dancers who successfully perform ballroom grace. …
Her appearance on Dancing with the Stars seems to be of a piece with a multi-platform attack on the public consciousness, in which USWNT players appear in contexts that embrace their athleticism - that, in fact, treat them as athletes without, however, losing sight of the interest-value that attends to almost all female athletes. By which I don't mean their femininity - but rather the way that the image of the female athletes surfaces gender itself as a thing.
I pointed out this SF Gate blog post to Doyle because it seemed to come at the issue from an oddball angle that couldn’t easily be dismissed: “Is Dancing with the Stars Fixed Against Hope Solo?”
It all adds up to my own oddball angle, wherein I look for the results of a show I don’t watch, not because I care about the show (or I would watch it), but because I now have a stake in how Hope Solo fares on that show.